Are there elements of ancient and/or modern Near Eastern Christianity that are present in your own church/faith life? If so, what are they? If not, would you be open to implementing any? - Pathfinder

Are there elements of ancient and/or modern Near Eastern Christianity that are present in your own church/faith life? If so, what are they? If not, would you be open to implementing any?

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    • #1426
      pathfinderlms
      Keymaster
    • #2109
      Michael Caplan
      Participant

      At my college Newman Center one of the daily Mass participants was a Byzantine Rite Catholic who requested and received permission to chant the readings and psalms in the manner Eastern Christians do. I truly appreciated this added element to the liturgy that allowed an extra degree of reverence for listening to Holy Scripture. He also personally practiced standing for more portions of the Mass then was required-in alignment with many Eastern denominations today. As others have stated, incorporating greater use of the senses (hearing, smell, etc.) enables us to participate more corporally as members of one Body of Christ. It truly is remarkable to reflect on how many of the liturgical practices of struggling Christian communities in the Near East have been continuously practiced for nearly two millennia. Including those liturgical elements, where appropriate, forges greater unity between the divergent strands of Christianity and connects us to ancient Christian communities whose legacy lives on today.

      • #2246
        Hans Vogel
        Participant

        Thank you Michael.
        Yes, music is an important cultural means of communication, even in a church service. The Catholic, Orthodox, and Eastern traditions are very rich in their liturgy. My question is whether the words are spoken and sung in the current language or in an old one. An old language can certainly have its place in liturgies, but I think people should be able to understand what it is about. How do you see this and how do the oriental Christians see this?

      • #2964
        Austin Pellizzer
        Participant

        Hello Michael,
        Thanks for sharing. I like the whole music aspect of Byzantine Rite Catholics. Personally, in my day-to-day life, I love to listen to Russian Orthodox chants. I believe this is one of the traditions I think the Catholic Chuch (my community) needs to bring back, chanting during services. It’s not just a great way to get into the spiritual mindset of prayer and reflection but also an excellent way to incorporate God and faith into our everyday busy lives.

      • #2278
        Collin Bastian
        Participant

        Hi Michael,

        I too appreciated the course’s focus on developing an importance of the physical in the liturgy – emphasizing the importance of the senses in interacting with approved instruments. Chanting is one great aspect of that – I have longed to learn how to chant so that I may better appreciate the Eastern Orthodox way of liturgy, and how using my voice in that way may glorify God in ways that would be harder to do with my standard voice alone.

      • #2306
        Patrick Bereit
        Participant

        Michael, thanks for sharing that experience from your Newman Center. A close friend of mine is Byzantine Catholic and often shares with me about certain differences in their liturgy, as you mentioned It’s beautiful to see our unity in that universality as brothers and sisters in Christ, yet worshipping in different ways. It’s also fascinating to see the role history plays in shaping how these things are today.

    • #2304
      Patrick Bereit
      Participant

      As a Roman Catholic, I find myself having multiple similarities with elements of Near Eastern Christianity. The course was very interesting and I noted that some of the general elements described of Western Christianity seemed to apply more to Protestantism. One element very important in my Faith tradition is using beautiful artwork at a window to guide in prayer. I love gazing at the beauty of church architecture and paintings and sculptures of the saints as a means of enhancing prayer. As a regular altar server during the Catholic Mass, we use incense (not ad often as our Eastern brothers) and other means of using our God-given senses to elevate the worship experience. Relics also play a large role in my Faith, but I would like to increase my devotion to this element. I have always found the element of monasticism as very beautiful and so influential in shaping both Eastern and Western traditions. My sister is a Dominican Religious Sister so it was always a gift to visit the convent and witness the communal life of Faith of consecrated women. I would like to implement more of these aspects, such as asceticism and communal prayer.

    • #2315
      Max Prowant
      Participant

      I was particularly interested in how some of the Eastern Christians believe that the whole of human sensation is activated during worship. Eastern Christians do not simply listen to the word, they do not just hear the gospel read to them, but incorporate sight and smell and presumably physical touch as well. Raised in the Catholic Church, this was present to some degree. The priest would spread incense, for example. There was beautiful choral music and the great beauty of catholic cathedrals is unparalleled. Now atteneding a Baptist church, these elements are absent. They are absent, I think, to the detriment of the practitioners who could stand to benefit from a fuller experience of God.

    • #2323
      Joseph Danaher
      Participant

      With my grandfather having been born to Syrian immigrants of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, I have found increasing interest in the rite as an adult, especially now that I am Roman Catholic after being raised Protestant. I try to utilize elements of it in my life with regards to the music. I go on Spotify and search Melkite or Eastern liturgy and like to pray to that. Amusingly, though, I haven’t sorted my liked songs, so when I’m in the car with someone it’ll switch from The Beatles Come Together straight to an Aramaic singing of the Our Father. Also, as a previous aspiring musician, I find the music just far more deep and moving than the vast majority of contemporary Christian worship music. It pierces the soul rather than just having hype, like much of today’s content. It’s got that oomph in it the way that a book of Plato would have in contrast to a sitcom. I also have a couple Eastern icons, which I find to be fascinatingly beautiful and more artistically inspiring than the Western ones, well except for maybe Raphael and Michelangelo. I would potentially be open to being Melkite one day. I thought about it when I was converting to Roman Catholicism, and I still think about it. The mass really makes me feel like I’m glimpsing a shimmer of what heaven is like.

      • #3015
        Deneisha Hollis
        Participant

        Hello Joseph,
        It is interesting what religion does to draw us in and how it reveals so much to us. I have never heard on this particular sect of Greek Christianity but I would love to explore their liturgy and see how it can change the way I think about my walk even though I am nondenominational. I can relate to seeing how others practice their faith and being fascinated by it. I encourage you to continue to explore just for learning different points of view and expanding your knowledge on Christianity.

    • #2366

      I raised as a catholic and the artefacts were and continue being present in the churches. Now, as a protestant, I’m a part of baptist church and the element I noticed in common is about the emphasis on scripture. We don’t have any artefacts or icons like catholics churches.

    • #2963
      Austin Pellizzer
      Participant

      As someone who grew up Italian Catholic but was born in Russia, I have always been interested in the Eastern Rite Churches, especially the Russian Orthodox tradition. As a result, I have recently been attending Eastern Rite Catholic Churches to help me understand and get an idea of how my fellow Catholic brothers and sisters conserve their traditions here in the West.
      Many of the parishes I have attended in my city use incense, Icons and standing traditions to pray. Visiting these communities has given me an appreciation for the practices of other regions of the world. Still, it has opened my eyes to show me this tradition is something I can see myself truly embracing as I endeavour into my more profound Catholic tradition. Lastly, in everyday life, I use icons and incense in my daily prayer life not just as a window into the divine but also to cherish and tie my Eastern European heritage with my Western Catholic upbringing.

      • #3016
        Deneisha Hollis
        Participant

        Hello Austin,
        I love incense and use it daily for prayer purposes. I would love to go to a church that incorporates it weekly. I think having the sensory to smell what faith is can really add to our beliefs. I feel as though since Catholic church is more structured people will seek more answers in what Christianity really means to them. I feel that it is important to always explore different ways of worship whether it be through music, prayer, or teachings.

    • #3014
      Deneisha Hollis
      Participant

      I have been to a temple that practice Krishna Consciousness or Christ Consciousness. They are originated in India and they believe that their are certain logical ways to structure or beliefs and life. I can relate to some of the teachings because they make sense to me and bring explain why the belief in God is so important. I have no problem incorporating their idea of meditation and logic into my beliefs as a Christian. I find it interesting that they do not believe in eating meat especially cows and their reasoning behind it makes sense and resonates with me. I will continue to expand my knowledge on world religions and how I feel about my beliefs as A Christian. I think that I can definitely see why scripture and reading on different viewpoints matter to many religions especially those who center in Christianity. I think by expanding the teachings we follow we will renew or hope in the salvation of Christ.

    • #2039
      Cara Brown
      Participant

      Hi Grace,
      I found your thoughts about how we engage with art or a church service and how that shapes our experience of what we are observing compelling – It makes me wonder, what aspects of our faith and who God is are we missing by limiting our church experience? The only experience I can relate it to would be when I visited an Orthodox church in Crete. I was a bit overwhelmed at the incense and ornate-ness everywhere, but I also was keenly attuned to God’s holiness and divinity in a way I had not experienced in the Western church.

    • #2086
      Zack Jones
      Participant

      Hi Grace,

      I appreciated your connection to art and its ability to lift the eyes of the Christian upwards toward God. Herman Bavinck, a Dutch Reformed pastor who was alive in the late 1800s and early 1900s, wrote a book called “The Wonderful Works of God.” In it, he writes that “…art in all its works and ways conjures up an ideal world before us, in which the discords of our existence on earth are purged in a gratifying harmony.” He does explain, though that “Art cannot close the gulf between the ideal and the real…It shows us the glory of Canaan from a distance but it does not usher us into a better country nor make us citizens of it.”

      Engaging the whole person through reading, listening, speaking, looking, etc helps us see the Creator God more completely. I appreciate your thoughts on this and hope you’re a part of a healthy, gospel-preaching church spurring you on to the love of God!

    • #2279
      Collin Bastian
      Participant

      Hi Grace,

      I agree that it is very cool (and also important) that the East has emphasized using their senses in conducting their worship. As a person who has been drawn to Catholicism, I have always wanted to get into this more sense-based liturgical living, especially through such methods as having a veneration of iconography, as well as through having an appreciation for the relics of those saints who have gone before us. I think these practices would help myself and others to develop a more grounded faith.

    • #2305
      Patrick Bereit
      Participant

      Thomas, I have to agree on your like for utilizing the senses during prayer. It can assist in directing our whole selves to God in worship, as Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer arise before You as incense.” I recommend visiting an Orthodox Church as well as Eastern Rite Catholic Churches to see this beauty within the liturgy. My first time I visited an Orthodox Church (Ethiopian and then Coptic), I didn’t know all the details of what was occurring but I could sense the reverence, devotion, and presence of God in this place. It truly is heavenly! The mentions of monasticism also very much interest me and I’d love to learn more on it!

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